FORT HOOD, Texas - The Directorate of Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division’s safety program has been at the forefront of the garrison’s efforts to promote and embrace a safety culture here.
The division’s collateral duty safety officers, also known as CDSOs, meet weekly to collaborate and brainstorm ideas to educate and engage their peers on a variety of safety topics for work and home.
“I believe this CDSO committee is a prime example of the culture we are trying to not only create and sustain but help flourish in OMD,” said Adam Alexander, chief of operations and maintenance division, DPW. “When the ideas and excitement for growth and continued advancement come from within the organization, it’s not only exponentially more successful but it has a much higher probability of sticking.”
As a CDSO since 2018, Alan Keith has seen the safety culture transform and become fully supported by his peers.
“As CDSOs, we are trying to give back and say thanks for giving us the opportunity to do what we do to help better the whole organization and safety culture across OMD,” he said. “It’s very important to keep everybody safe, bring that knowledge and level awareness to where it is today and get them home to their families each and every night.”
During a recent meeting, Josh Musselman, lead CDSO, explained the eight-person committee came up with the idea to provide lunch for the entire division.
“Everyone chipped in and donated to the cause,” he said. “We wanted to get people out, give them a free meal and let them know we are here.”
The CDSO committee kick-off started at 4 a.m., Jan. 21, prepping the grills to cook pork and chicken. Along with an entrée, the meal included chips, a pickle and a bottle of water. The CDSOs had a seamless battle rhythm from grilling and plating, to passing out more than 200 boxed meals during the drive-thru lunch.
“I know each of them personally. They give to the people and care about their battle buddies … that is why they’re special at being collateral duty safety officers,” Alexander said. “What they did today sends even a stronger message of ‘we are here for you; we care about you; and we are giving back to you for everything you do for us.’”
One of the drive-thru attendees was Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, who came out to show his support.
“Wow, what a great initiative and to be able to do it in a safe way, too,” he said. “We are all working through these times. To find ways to promote safety is important, and I’m glad I could come through.”
Doug Huddleston, garrison chief of safety, commended OMD for hosting a successful event that aligns with the mission of the Army Safety and Occupational Health Management System.
“ASOHMS is about the safety culture and getting into the mechanics of how the organization lives and breathes. It is woven into the fabric of the existing culture and a part of mission success and readiness,” he said. “Events like this speaks to that ability. When you get this kind of participation out of an organization that means they are buying into the culture, which includes safety.”
For the CDSOs, the buy-in is the overall safety and health of the DPW family and their customer.
“The people who do the work here are the most important asset we have,” Musselman said. “If we are not focused on keeping them safe, keeping them injury-free, keeping them going home to their families and happy with their work environment, then we are not going to be successful with our mission here.”
Senior leadership shared the same message that it is about the care and compassion for their workforce.
“People are our most important asset,” Foster said. “We need to make sure we keep them safe so they can stay in the fight and accomplish the mission.”
“I believe in focusing the most important tool we have in our tool bag, which is our people, helps us accomplish that mission and ensures we have the right resources,” Alexander said. “The intangible benefits that are hard to put dollar amounts on is a workforce that feels they are a part of the overarching solution. You end up with increased productivity, less absenteeism and much less turnover because it becomes a place to work that they created, they enjoy, they believe in, and it starts with them knowing we truly care about each other’s well-being.”